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You are here: Home Practical information Getting to La Vélo Francette: by ferry, train or plane

Getting to La Vélo Francette: by ferry, train or plane

To reach La Vélo Francette’s starting point (be it at the beginning or the end of your cycling trip), to organize a weekend trip, or simply to shorten a stage or two along the route, read on to learn about the different ways of reaching La Vélo Francette and travelling along it using public transport.

Arriving by ferry

Channel crossings between Portsmouth and Ouistreham are run by Brittany Ferries, operating both day and night.

Day-time crossings generally take 5 hours 45 minutes, night-time crossings 7 hours. There are at least 3 sailings a day in each direction.

Bicycles are allowed on board; you need to indicate the number of bikes you’re travelling with when reserving with Brittany Ferries.

Ouistreham ferry port is located 15km north of the city of Caen and Caen train station. Ouistreham and Caen are linked by a continuous cycle track running beside the canalized Orne River going from the sea to central Caen. 

 

The ferries are comfortable and equipped with stabilizers. There are cafés, restaurants and shops on board, as well as cabins with bunkbeds. Cyclists crossing simply with their bikes should use the boarding and parking facilities also provided for motorcyclists. Do take care when getting on and off the ferries as the metallic access ramps can be slippery.

Arriving by train

Using the train to reach different stages along the route

Using the train to reach different stages along the vélo francette

The fair number of train stations close to the cycle route makes accessing La Vélo Francette at different points relatively easy, including to reach a stage, to shorten a stage, to jump from one stage to another, or to return to the starting point.

The main train stations along the cycle route are those at:

Caen, Flers, Laval (TGV), Angers (TGV), Saumur (TGV), Montreuil Bellay, Thouars, Niort (TGV), La Rochelle (TGV)

 (TGV indicates stations served by France’s high-speed trains, trains à grande vitesse.)

The interactive maps of La Vélo Francette’s various sections and stages enable you to locate the train stations along the route with ease.

With TER (Train Express Régionaux) regional trains, you do not need to reserve in advance to travel on them.
The transportation of bikes is free on such trains, but doublecheck that there is a pictogram of a bike on information about the train you’re planning to take to make sure your bike will be allowed on it. Note that spaces for bikes may be limited in number. Also be aware that there may be restrictions on taking bikes on board trains at busy periods. If taking your bike by train, arrive well in advance at the station and, as far as possible, opt to travel outside of rush hours.

INTERCITÉS trains sometimes require that you book in advance. If that is the case, you need to make sure that you book a space for your bike at the same time as buying your ticket.
With these types of trains, there may be restrictions concerning travelling by train with your bike at busy periods.  As far as possible, if transporting your bike by such trains, try to travel outside of rush hours.

You have to book in advance to travel on French high-speed TGV trains.
The price for transporting a bicycle on a TGV train is €10. You can reserve tickets for you and your bike either on the Voyages SNCF website (the SNCF is the French national rail company), on www.capitainetrain.com or at a train station.

For further information, consult the SNCF website section dedicated to  transporting bicycles by train. 

You can also consult the relevant regional TER train websites:

Ter Basse Normandie

Ter Pays de la Loire

Ter Poitou-Charentes

Arriving by plane

If you’re travelling from afar, what should you do if you wish to transport your bicycle by plane to use it on La Vélo Francette cycle route?

Note that there is an airport near the start of La Vélo Francette and one near the end, plus one halfway along the route:

If you’re flying in to Paris, it’s possible to reach La Vélo Francette cycle route by train.

Some airline companies don’t charge a supplement for transporting your bicycle, but check on the policies of different airlines before booking.

You need to pack your bicycle in a special bag or box, normally available at the airport.

Check your travel insurance policy to make sure that your bicycle is insured in case of damage during transportation.